ProgPower USA III -- Thursday Pre-Show


Whew, this is where it all began in 2002! First, let's have a bit of background......

Since Glenn Harveston had already succeeded in producing and promoting two consecutive and successful ProgPower festivals here in the U.S., I'd decided that such a great track record deserved more of my support. I'd helped him hook up with my roommate Tim Hurd and, through Tim, Glenn got the Earthlink Live venue itself, but this year I wanted to help out more....

So I made plans to help sponsor the festival. My friend Jim Raggi, who writes the review 'zine Lamentations of the Flame Princess, was similarly interested and over the course of the early part of 2002, we'd decided that we'd chip in on bringing the mighty Opeth to ProgPower USA III. Negotiations started, but after five or so long weeks Glenn finally threw in the towel -- alas and damnit -- and we began looking at other bands. All three of us were interested in booking a heavier band; someone to give the festival a bit of variety. I was interested in Children of Bodom, but Jim wasn't, but suddenly Glenn says "How about Devin Townsend?"
Huh? The guy who's responsible for the Ocean Machine CD, my favorite CD of all time? Sure! This was like "settling" for a different brand of caviar! So I became a sponsor of ProgPower USA III, the only non-business sponsor in the bunch.

Excitement built during the summer as bands were confirmed and added to the bill, and after tickets went on sale on July 1st they sold out at around 5pm EDT on July 5th -- a remarkable success! I reserved early and got a hotel room at the Fairfield Inn again for this year, from Thursday night through Sunday, even though I live only 12 miles from the venue, since I wanted a close place to rest and relax. Besides, as usual, some of my friends might need crash-space...and sure enough, we peaked at five people in the room this year. :)

Summer slipped by. My big summertime activity, Dragon*Con, came and went. I'm a director and the webmaster for that 25,000-person annual gathering, which was also a great success musically for me this year. With that one "in the bag," it was time to set my sights on ProgPower....

The ProgPower Pre-Show Party

The chill of November arrived and hey presto, it was time for the pre-show party on Thursday night before ProgPower itself! The pre-show was held at the Riviera Club, a venue within a long walk of the main Progpower hotels and Earthlink Live. Unlike 2001, when my roommate booked it at the Cotton Club, this year's event was coordinated by others from the prog community (including Shane from Z-Lot-Z, now in Cea Serin), and the bands were a bit closer to the mark as far as a progressive metal audience goes. :)

After checking in at the hotel and meeting up with my friend Justin (DJ-Mosquito on SeismicRadio), who needed a place to crash that night, we drove over to Earthlink along with Chris from the band F5, a familiar face from both prior ProgPower festivals, and Jim "Locust" Pridgen, my compadre from ProgPower USA 1.0 in Chicago.

The marquee looked fairly interesting. I was sorry I'd missed The Fixx the night before (hey, they did an entire CD based on Dr. Who!), but who was this mysterious band "Progpower"? And "Sun sex in the city" sounded kinda titillating, too. :)

Outside there's quite a line already. Gold Badge holders (and presumably me, as a sponsor) were to be allowed inside early, but when we got there it looked as if everyone was going in equally. Oh well, no biggie. Then someone from the club yelled "Okay, if you have a Gold Badge please step out of line and come up to the front." Great idea, except that everyone had a Gold Badge, as this pic shows -- everyone just lined up on the other side of the stanchions! :)

Inside the venue Glenn kindly introduces Jim Raggi and I to our "sponsoree," Devin Townsend, and a kind soul took this pic of the three of us. (Oddly enough Devin did not appear to notice my Ozric Tentacles t-shirt here, but Saturday would be different.)

At about this time, I see what looks like a familiar face. Could it be Tom from Sweden's Evergrey? It can't be -- he told us last week in IRC that only Michael from his band would be able to make it. But there he is, and he recognizes me instantly from Progpowers past, and indeed all (well, most) of Evergrey made the crossing for ProgPower, just to hang out and show their support. Michael told me later they would attend every US ProgPower fest, even if they weren't playing, unless they were on tour or committed to studio-time. They're really cool guys who, ahem, also enjoy the pleasures of alcohol. :)

The first band to perform was Magistral, a band from the US (but originally all from Chile), who were a power-metal act. My power-metal days are a few years behind me now, but they turned in a good show and here are some pics:
Magistral #1
Magistral #2
Magistral #3
Magistral #4

During the break Jon Schaeffer from Iced Earth, a special guest of Glenn's for the festival, was kind enough to sign an Iced Earth booklet for me and allowed this pic of me and him to be taken. I think he signed almost continuously for five hours there! I also got this pic of the end of the bar and the crowd.

Next up were Cea Serin, a cool prog/death metal hybrid, and they turned in an excellent show. Here are quite a few pics:
Cea Serin #1
Cea Serin #2
Cea Serin #3
Cea Serin #4
Cea Serin #5
Cea Serin #6
Cea Serin #7
Cea Serin #8
Cea Serin #9
Cea Serin #10
Cea Serin #11
Cea Serin #12
Cea Serin #13
Cea Serin #14
Cea Serin #15
Cea Serin #16
Cea Serin #17
Cea Serin #18
Cea Serin #19
Cea Serin #20
Note the guy holding the kick-drum in place here. Now THAT's dedication!
Cea Serin #21
Cea Serin #2
Cea Serin #23
Cea Serin #24
Cea Serin #25
Cea Serin #26
That guy's back again!
Cea Serin #27
Cea Serin #28
Cea Serin #29
Cea Serin #30
Cea Serin #31
They had a lot of technical problems (and something happened involving blood on their lead singer's shirt), but it was still an excellent performance.

Next up were Persephone's Dream, who turned in a better (and better-attended) performance here than at Dragon*Con a few months before. Part of their show includes some neet performance art. Here are the pics:
Persephone's Dream #1
Persephone's Dream #2
Persephone's Dream #3
Persephone's Dream #4
Persephone's Dream #5
Persephone's Dream #6
Persephone's Dream #7
Persephone's Dream #8
Persephone's Dream #9

I took a few pics without flash to show the glowing globes on the stage:
PD dark #1
PD dark #2
PD dark #3

A bit later they did this "puppet-master" skit:
PD puppet skit #1
PD puppet skit #2
PD puppet skit #3
PD puppet skit #4

An interesting performance and better than I expected after Dragon*Con, too!

We hung out for a while after the show was over and then headed over to the City Cafe, a 24-hour diner on nearby 10th St, for food. As usual, the portions were so large we had leftovers to bring back to the hotel. Three cheers for Fairfield Inn; our room had a microwave AND a small refrigerator! Jim Raggi, no stranger now to the City Cafe's charms, had brought the kind folks from The End Records there to eat and it was cool to finally meet the people behind that most-excellent label and mail-order seller; a bit later Michael and some folks from Evergrey showed up, too. :)

We went back to the hotel and then I drove home to unload the pics off the camera and pick up more stuff. I got back at around 6am...just enough time to get perhaps 5 hours of sleep -- tops -- before Friday's official start of ProgPower USA III. :)

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